You make it to the end of your yoga class and your seasoned instructor says it is time for savasana and guides you on to your back. You take the legs about as wide as your mat letting the feet turn out to the sides ~ check. You press down through the heels, lift up the spine and release it back down ~ check. You relax the shoulders and turn your palms up ~ check.  Now…do you a) Get ready for nap time?  b) Roll up your mat and get a jump on the rest of your day? or c) Start to think about what you need to pick up for dinner?  Answer:  d) None of the above because you have read the following…

  1. STAY, STAYSTAY for savasana.  Many instructors are happy you made it to class, even if you straggled in a few minutes late, but walking out as everyone settles into stillness (and yes they can hear you as you tiptoe out) robs you of one of the most important benefits of your practice ~ the restful meditative state that the physical practice was designed to help you achieve.  Savasana is in many respects, the point of a yoga practice.  Exceptions exist for ducking out early if your instructor goes way over time and the babysitter needs backup.
  2. RELAX.  Completely.  Scan through and soften any tight spots you notice.  When I am adjusting in savasana it is common to come across furrowed brows, clenched fists , and eyes darting across the ceiling.  Close your eyes and let your body be still, even if it means you have to resist the urge to twitch or scratch that itch.  Trust me, it will pass.  Allow your body to come into a relaxed meditative state so that your busy mind learns to follow.  The benefits of a few minutes of relaxation are numerous ~ increased energy, improved mood, and improved focus are just a few.
  3. BREATHE.  One might think it is a given, but gentle reminders are always helpful.  Let your breath find a normal rhythm and allow your attention to follow it mindfully as it rises and falls.  When you notice your thoughts veering off to your plans or memories, gently redirect your attention back to your breathing ~ over and over.    Maybe your instructor guides you through a meditation or perhaps you are left to your own devices, either way use this time to observe the ever-changing flow of the breath, thoughts, emotions, and sensations.  Each of these provide us with anchors to simply be, to live in the present moment rather than miss out on how great your life truly is.

by Denise Antonini, MS, LPC, RYT
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Dynamic, soulful, and empowering, Denise pours inspiration and creativity into her teachings, using her expertise in health psychology to elevate an ancient practice to a state-of-the-art yoga experience. Yoga is her art of movement, mindfulness, her art of attention, and awareness, her art of intention. At Stanford University Denise studied psychology and the mind-body connection graduating with honors. At Chicago Medical School her thesis and doctoral work in clinical psychology focused on maintaining health, improving quality of life and achieving wellness. As a therapist, consultant and professor she has helped people create the life they want to be living. As a yoga instructor her invigorating, fluid yoga sequences challenge the body helping students to disconnect from the busyness of day-to-day life– tuning in to their intuition by stabilizing the mind with the breath. Denise effortlessly guides anyone who comes to the mat to a place of meditative calm–finding the perfection of the present moment.

Denise and her husband Eric are the owners and co-founders of You and the Mat, an independent yoga studio and gallery for yoga inspired art. Together they strive to make yoga accessible to students, instructors, and the community through their classes, art and music events, Master Teacher and Support Local Workshop Series. Celebrating yoga as a fusion of art forms, they support artists, musicians, and creatives who share their vision.